Directional drilling is an underground boring that does not follow a straight vertical path. There are several techniques used to side-track underground obstacles like water features and rock formations. For many decades now, directional drilling has been the preferred method for utility pipe-laying. Many industries benefit from directional drilling, including telecommunications companies, electricity, and water providers.
What makes directional drilling a valuable technique?
The conventional open-cut method of pipe-laying used to be the standard procedure in installing utility pipes. However, the open-cut process has many disadvantages. First, there is significant disruption to the surrounding environment. Trenching is also not suitable when working on congested urban project sites.
Utility companies prefer directional drilling for projects that involve installing pipes underneath pre-existing buildings and establishments. This technique also helps avoid the contamination of groundwater. It has also become essential to ensure that underground geological formations are left untouched. Imagine being able to install underground pipes while avoiding a river or bridge. This is all possible through directional drilling.
How is directional drilling done?
Directional drilling uses a rig designed to drill the pilot hole using a drill head guided through a predetermined path. Once the drill head exits the path, it is pulled back along the same direction while simultaneously installing the pipe in place. In some instances, it is necessary to use a reamer to enlarge the borehole as the pipes get put in place.
The process is relatively simple and results in minimal disturbance. There is usually no need to create intermediate trenches to aid in the drilling and installation.
Why is directional drilling used for most utility installation projects?
As cities become more congested, installing new utility pipelines becomes incredibly challenging. If there is a complex network of existing pipes under the ground, trenching is not a suitable option. Using sophisticated tools allows directional drilling companies to plan an underground drill path while at the same time avoiding existing pipes.
Another significant benefit of directional drilling is how it helps conserve the environment. Trenching creates much disturbance on the ground, but a drill rig does not. Other above-ground obstacles do not pose a problem because some drill rigs are compact enough for use in tight spaces.
Potential challenges with directional drilling
Despite all the benefits of trenchless drilling, there are still some challenges that need to be overcome. First, trenchless drilling requires expertise and skill. As drill rigs get updated with new technology, drilling contractors must train operators and keep up with new trends.
Directional drilling also uses drill fluids, which at times can cause controversy. Because of strict environmental regulations in some areas, drill fluid disposal becomes a problem for some drilling companies.
Lastly, rehabilitating the project site is another consideration for many contractors. Although directional drilling does not cause much disturbance, it is still essential to ensure that the site is returned to its original condition after completing the project. Some contractors feel that it requires much time and work from employees. Nevertheless, one characteristic of an excellent directional drilling company is its commitment to ensuring that post-project site conditions are satisfactory.